NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2016

by | Nov 18, 2016 | Rumors | 52 comments

Despite recent speculation, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Brandon Saad isn't on the trade block.

Despite recent speculation, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Brandon Saad isn’t on the trade block.

Latest on the Lightning, NHL CBA talk, John Tavares, Brandon Saad, Martin Hanzal & more in your NHL rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET:  Elliotte Friedman walked back his recent speculation regarding winger Brandon Saad’s future with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He think it’s premature to start the Saad trade watch, saying there’s zero evidence Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has the 24-year-old on the block. Friedman said he was simply curious because he was close to being a healthy scratch last week.

He also notes Saad’s old team, the Chicago Blackhawks, looked into reacquiring him last year. Talks didn’t go far because they couldn’t see a way of it happening. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets gave up a lot in players (notably center Artem Anisimov) and salary (six years, $36 million) to get Saad last year. I don’t believe they’re willing to move him out just to ease their cap crunch. He’s too important to their future. 

Friedman’s colleague Eric Engels took to Twitter on Thursday reporting he’d heard Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal could be on the move soon. He also claims the Montreal Canadiens are among the interested clubs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanzal would be a good fit for the Habs, but the Coyotes asking price is reportedly a good young player who can help them right away. I don’t think the Canadiens have that type of player to spare that will tempt the Coyotes. 

TSN:  Pierre LeBrun reports if Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is sidelined for the remainder of the season by his knee injury, they’ll have about $8 million in salary-cap space to use if necessary via the trade market with Stamkos going on long-term injured reserve. They’ve been seeking a top-four right-handed defenseman. While they’re not pursuing anyone now, they could take a look at who’s available as the March 1 trade deadline nears. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Someone asked if this could lead to the Lightning trading goaltender Ben Bishop this season. If anything, this makes it easier for the Lightning to keep their goalie tandem intact for the remainder of the season. If they can afford to wait until the trade deadline, they could pick up a good rental player for a draft pick or prospect, rather than giving up someone like Bishop. Don’t forget, the Lightning have coped well in the past when Stamkos was on the shelf, so I daresay they won’t have much difficulty adjusting this time around. 

Regarding the NHL’s offer to the NHLPA of extending the CBA by three years in exchange for Olympic participation in 2018, Darren Dreger said most NHL owners don’t support the proposal. Dreger said some were surprised by league commissioner Gary Bettman’s proposal. Bob McKenzie said the NHL also proposed the two Olympics, two World Cups and multiple Ryder Cup formats and taking NHL regular-season games in Europe or even Asia. LeBrun, however, spoke with a player who said the players want a cap on escrow and this could be the hill they’re ready to die on. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Host James Duthie said this almost seems like CBA bargaining has already started. If the league is willing to consider capping escrow for the remainder of this agreement, then this proposal from the league could stand a chance. However, I think the league is hoping the players will be so keen to participate in the next two Olympics that they’ll accept high escrow clawbacks for three more years. As LeBrun suggests, the players probably won’t accept that. 

NBC SPORTS: Citing a recent report from Newsday’s Arthur Staple claiming the New York Islanders are shopping hard for a forward, James O’Brien looked at some potential trade options. He noted Staples brought up Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, though his recent concussion probably squashes that talk. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Brandon Saad, but Staple isn’t certain Isles GM Garth Snow would trade within the division. O’Brien also mentions Buffalo’s Evander Kane, Arizona’s Radim Vrbata, Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk and Anaheim’s Andrew Cogliano. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not sure the Avs are that keen to part with Duchene even before his injury. I don’t see Saad going anywhere (see below). I also think the Coyotes prefer to retain Vrbata. Unless the Isles are willing to part with a top defenseman, I doubt the Leafs are interested in moving van Riemsdyk. Cogliano is a good checking line forward but he’s not going to help the Isles scoring. If the Isles are willing to put Mikhail Grabovski on LTIR to free up cap space for Kane’s $5.25 million cap hit through 2017-18, the Sabres might listen, though they also want a quality blueliner in return. 


  1. I cannot believe how low we have sunk when a player who is ALMOST a healthy scratch is now on the trade block. Maybe. Lyle is absolutely right in saying Saad is too important to the Jackets future. He is also right in saying the return for Saad would have to be huge, they moved Anisimov and signed Saad for 6 x 6. Good thing Friedman backtracked on this.

    • I just don’t lend an credence to such comments or speculation. Had Torts scratched Saad so what. Torts beats to his own drummer & cares little about who you are when levying punishments. Saad had played 2 bad games & wasn’t back checking in the 1 just before he may have been scratched has Dubinsky not been injured that game & unable to play.

    • I am not ignoring the “worst is Torts’ part of this, but the frustartion that the Bluejackets coaching staff is having with Saad is that feel he really isn’t giving (or able?) to give a strong defensive zone effort. When playing with the terrific Balck hawk defenders, Toews and Hossa, he had was afforded for backside pressure guys who never shrugged the commitment and that may be where the disconnect starts. This is not something I am speculating, but more related to a chat that ahd their coaches wondering aloud whther he was up to the task of honing is “other side” so they could start to “trust him against top two line opposition.”
      Please, thake this for what it is worth, and don’t shoot the messenger/

      • I don’t watch Columbus enough to share an opinion. I have started to watch them a little more this season as they are getting fairly dynamic,Wennberg & Werenski look to be elite talents & I some how have several Columbus players in my various fantasy leagues, 1 year draft leagues at box pools. Wenneberg in all, Saad, Atkinson in 1 fantasy league. Had Johnson since dropped. Jenner since traded.

        Even Torts appears to be changing his stripes which is really shocking.

  2. You can’t cap escrow. It’s whole purpose is to ensure that player salaries don’t exceed the players share of league revenue. Capping it makes having a predetermined split in revenue meaningless. That was 1 of the most contentious issues in the last lock out. What % of revenue the players & league receive. Escrow is there to ensure players get the share they agreed to.

    Stop voting for the 5% escalator & your escrow will decline significantly.

    Again the players would be crazy not to take the 3 years as in that will postpone the next lock out for at least 3 years when they players will again be giving back & the league locking players out.

    I’m sure many owners aren’t happy. 8 teams are losing money, another 8 barely making money, why would they want 3 more years of that? The top 4 teams in the league make more money than the other 26 combined & revenue sharing is a joke.

    The last 2 CBA’s have seriously improved the NHL’s financial landscape but they have a long way to go to make the league viable financially for all teams. You shouldn’t have to make the playoffs to turn a profit. The unfortunate side is the NHL has reduced the UFA age substantially to secure what they have wanted & that’s incredibly inflationary.

    I love the foresight & intelligence of those running the NHL. Bettman, Daily, etc. This is pure marketing spin. If the players decline the NHL’s offer the NHL can point the finger at the players as the reason the NHL has chosen not to participate in the NHL. The have dangled a serious carrot. Many may not have liked the WC but the NHLPA made 30 mil off the event 70% going to the players who participated.

    Labor peace for as long as possible is in everyone’s interests.

    • Sorry should read participate in the Olympics not NHL.

      As for players who may bolt to the Olympics regardless of the NHL’s participation that will be interesting to see how that all player out legally.

      Really I think this is all just posturing. The NHL is nothing if not methodical & although many may not agree with Bettman’s & Dailey’s tactics. The NHL has never been in a better spot & it’s growth is staggering at the youth minor league level which will pay in spades eventually.

      NBC wants the NHL players in the Olympics, the IIHF wants them there as well, the players want to go but the NHL doesn’t really want to shut down for 2 weeks to go to Korea & who can blame them. I love the Olympics but hate the NHL shutting down for 2 weeks. Unfortunately you can’t have 1 with out the other. The IIHF has even offered to foot the travel & insurance bill. I’m shocked the IIHF has those resources available for such.

    • It’s a catch 22 tho Striker they can vote against the 5% escalator if they see fit but with the rate revenue has been growing they are essentially stagnating the cap which hurts guys signing contracts, not to mention other factors like the ability of teams that are close to the cap to keep teams together which could lead to having to move families around. All this could hurt much more than escrow depending. It’s not as easy as saying if you don’t like escrow going up don’t vote for the escalator, it’s 6 on one side half dozen to the other. The escalator effects the bottom line to the players as well.

      • I don’t disagree but the reason escrow is high is that the players are trying to take more money than is available & agreed to. They are compounding the problem. Revenue isn’t increasing at a sufficient rate to justify the escalator so the players have to just give the money back when the final #’s & audit are complete in the summer.

  3. Man, I’m really starting to wonder if Stamkos will ever play a full season! I know they can work around him not in the lineup, but it sure isn’t ideal.

    • I guess if there is a bright side to it is that that is 1 rather large chunk of salary that if it works out could lead to bringing in a rested Stamkos plus nearly 8 mill in another player or players for a playoff run with LTIR savings

    • Maybe if he was smaller he would be less susceptible to injuries. Ha-ha! Sorry George, I’m not helping but couldn’t resist.

      • I see Kris Russel is out indefinitely. So is Gaudreau. And Krug is having a bad time. Couldn’t resist either.

      • All good. Ha-ha! Just being a jerk. Me that is.

  4. Here is my 2 cents.
    The concept of escrow clawbacks is, to me, offensive. If we take out the value of the contracts being in the millions and just consider this a job situation, we can see a different side of this problem.
    What other business is able to get away with hiring someone and giving them a contract in writing stating their pay for services rendered and then claim they are not making the money they thought they were going to make so the employee has to give back part of their salary?
    I can’t think of any.
    The idea that the employee is responsible to make up lost revenue for bad business decisions or poor hiring practices is absolutely ridiculous. Even worse is the fact that the numbers(profits) are calculated by those who will benefit the most by manipulating them. I wonder if the practice is even legal in either country.
    We all know if a business is loosing money it closes. The concept that hockey teams are loosing big money but staying open doesn’t pass the entrepreneurial lit test.
    I can tell you if my employer tried that with me, I would be getting a lawyer so fast….

    • You can’t compare professional athletes to real humans. 1 of the most contentious issues in the last CBA lock out was the revenue split between players & the league. The % split is guaranteed in the CBA. Escrow is the safety net to ensure that there players % doesn’t exceed the agreement.

      I work under contract to my clients. If they don’t honor the contract or I penalties exist with in the contract & there will be litigation if the terms aren’t met unless another agreement is found & agreed to to superseed said agreement.

      My employee’s don’t have contracts. I can layoff or potentially terminate; with cause, them at any time. This is how the vast majority of people in the real world live unless union employee’s then removing them is harder to impossible depending upon their CBA & far more costly. Think Teachers, virtually unable to be removed unless they break the law in a bad way.

      I wish all of you had to run your own business for years. Your concepts & opinions would change significantly. Businesses are run to make money generally. Sports being a very odd exception to that rule.

      • You and always get rid of an employee. There is only 2 ways. 1. with cause 2 without cause. #2 is just more expensive. I’ve worked for a company in the pass when they decided not to give out bonuses because the company didn’t do as well as expected. But when you looked at the numbers and the money the company spent on expenditures, massive upgrades, opening new buildings, etc. There were corporate decision that played into a less attractive bottom line. To rub salt in the wounds the executive office received their bonuses.

      • You are comparing a non union environment to a unionized one…apples to oranges. Or have I missed something?

      • Striker: your contracts have provisions in case the other party fails to perform. You can not include a clause to say if we can’t sell the product you aren’t getting paid. You would never get another client.

        Hockey players perform their half of the contract.

      • “Hockey players perform their half of the contract.”

        TheManOss – I think you’ve completely missed the boat on this one. The players does not merely want to be employees, but business partners. They calculated and plotted for that business has and will grow at a much faster rate than salaries can on their own.

        “The idea that the employee is responsible to make up lost revenue for bad business decisions or poor hiring practices is absolutely ridiculous.”

        They are business partners now, not employees. Players chose this themselves.

        Escrow is there, merely so that there’s enough space for a final accounting. The split is 50/50.

      • Denne, I may be totally off the mark, but I think you fail to consider that they are a union of workers.

        They are not business partners. As much as we would like to believe their high salaries make them partners, it just isn’t true.

        Partners have a say in the daily operations of the business, they do not.
        Partners get to help pick staff and travel accommodations, they do not.
        Relocation, vacation schedules, training times etc, etc.
        They don’t get a seat at the owners meetings either. Why?
        Because they are not partners, that’s why.
        They negotiate their contract just like Ford, GM and all the other union shops.

    • ManOss, I don’t know what industry you are in, but there are likely some key differences between it and the NHL. Your job and that of an NHL player.
      NHL players are the product and sign contracts. They are not employees. The league does not exist without them. The league also doesn’t exist (in it’s current state) without owners who can afford to invest 100’s of millions.
      There are not many industries where the contractors (players) have the same amount of leverage.
      They can vote to give there association a raise every year. Can you?
      The trade off is escrow.
      The best deals are where both sides win.
      The NHLPA has access to financials as well. Can they hide hockey related revenue? I suppose, but it is not like the NHL hires H&R Block as there accountants.

      • Hockey related revenue was agreed to through collective bargaining by both the NHL & NHLPA. All teams submit audited financial reports produced by accounting company’s who specialize in such & are considered wards of the courts & liable for not reporting figures properly & accurately. The have the NHL teams sign documents stating all figures have been provided accurately & honestly to the best of their ability as well.

        The NHLPA then has their auditors revue said statements & seeks clarity or proof where ever they feel necessary. No one is deliberately misrepresenting the facts, if they were they would be found & penalties levied. This isn’t Bob’s garage cooking his books for the CRA or IRS.

      • For clarification, I ran an insurance business for 18 years. I was under contract as well. None of my contracts ever included reparations regarding claw backs of my base salary. Never.

        After I got out of that industry I became a teacher, so, yes I do have the voting option to ask for a raise when our contract comes up.
        As a teacher, our school is having a drop in enrollment. There is nothing the board can do you lower my salary or take some back because of fewer kids.

        I think a few people are missing the fact that any NHL team can terminate or buy out any contract. It is no different than “the real world.”

        Billionaire owners run these teams in order to make money. There is not one team owner who has agreed to loose money indefinitely. If you honestly believe NHL owners are different you are sadly mistaken.

        NHL owners are not socialists, they are capitalists. Every business owner is the same. At least the ones who grow their business to the size of the NHL.

  5. Sarcasm: On. Alright!!!!! Another lockout is coming up guys!!!! I’m getting bored of watching hockey anyways, what with the flashy goals, the highlight reel saves and bone crunching hits. What I’be really been looking forward to is the nightly highlights of the day’s latest bargaining session!!!! When Daly and Bettman both say that “this is the hill we’ll die on”, and then Fehr saying that they’all never agree to that clause. And the action shots of them walking into the fancy hotel where the bargaining is going on…..I live for this!!!!

    • Ha-ha! Haven’t they been great. The only person I think I know that has loved the 2 lockouts & players trike was my wife. Ha-ha!

  6. With JVR having one more year left in his contract, I can see him as their main trade chip in a package to land a top 3-4 D man.

    • It seems obvious but Ideally I would like to see Toronto resign & retain JvR. They may well be able to acquire a decent top 4 Dman this summer before the expansion draft for nothing more than say a Kapanen & a 1st. Minnesota & Columbus have to many Dman. Anaheim, Nashville & Winnipeg may have. A few others look to potentially as well but to early to tell.

      Toronto may be closer than we think. They may not be 5 years away from being a playoff team. They are playing far better than I assumed they would & are doing it with more rookies than I saw being introduced at 1 time.

      It’s early just saying that JvR if he wants to stay may be retained & a Dman acquired at a different cost. Expansion alters the trade landscape this summer. A some what unique scenario as it happens rarely.

      • JVR is a keeper and wholeheartedly agree that he should be part of the TML moving forward .. there will be opportunity to acquire key pieces in the summer of 2017. Patience and a bit of luck and growing with one another is paramount to success.. “go leafs go”

    • ehh depends I suppose but can’t see trading JVR for just any D and between Gardiner Zaitsev and Carrick not sure I see a need for a 2nd pairing D

      • Pretty sure you could squeeze someone in over those 3! Lol ?

      • Not worth trading JVR for.

  7. I am a little surprised with the assertion that the Leafs would not move van Reimsdyk. Although it is quite possible that they wouldn’t and I like having him on the team he does represent their best chance at quickly upgrading the defense. The defense, as we all know, is the area needing improvement. The chemistry found with van Reimsdyk, Marner, and Bozak would be hard to replicate but with every trade there are side affects. I say trade van Reimsdyk and upgrade that defense. Fowler, Shattenkirk, Hamonic?

    • With Striker on keeping JVR, not like he is an easy commodity to replace either. It will be interesting to see what these D go for prior to expansion.
      There will be more D available than normal, but the demand is also still high as more teams will have some cap space and so many of them need quality D help.
      A cost reduction seems likely, but how much..?
      Should be the best off season in a while.

      • I agree Ray He isn’t an easy thing to just go out and get at all and it seems that the Hall trade has skewed a lot of people into thinking that’s the cost of a D which I don’t think is the case and yes with expansion on the horizon there will be other options available (I’m looking at you Minnesota) There isn’t a big rush for a team that had such little expectations to run out and try and pull a top pairing D out of a hat and make a bad deal,1 point out of a playoff spot and 6-2 in their past 8, unless it was an absolute no brainer JVR isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

      • I have to admit the Leafs are better sooner than I expected. Still can’t see them keeping it up and making the playoffs, but hey there is a surprise every year.
        Their management team won’t rush anything as they know they are still have a lot to do for the ultimate goal. Not a MGT group that was put together to just make the playoffs.
        In that context a big scoring winger seems like an key piece worth keeping as long as he doesn’t ask for the farm.
        I liked it better when the Leafs sucked.

      • Ya I don’t think they are a playoff team yet either just saying with the way things are going I doubt anyone is in a huge rush to trade a guy like JVR who is relatively young enough to still fit in cheap and leads the team in scoring. There just isn’t enough options available right now I doubt worth giving that up.

  8. Last night during the Minny and Bruins game Boston had a goal called back; coaches challenge the paly was offside. Funny as I was watching the play. I said “hope they don’t score here because it’s offside, so no celebration for me, when the bruins scored because of the emotion was gone, thinking the play was offside. It was closer then I thought again it was the back skate because it was in the air. That’s at least the fourth time I’ve seen a goal called back because the back skate although not over the blue line was in the air. There is no way this could be the spirit of the rule, its just too dumb. For a league starving for goals, you’re clawing back goals because the blade didn’t touch the ice.

    • EXACTLY!

    • The problem is with so many cameras and angles you have get the calls right cause someone will see it after. Lol

      • Just rewrite the rule to state all your body has to be across the line. If an offside is so close the only way you can determine it was is eliminate the human aspect of officials is to watch it numerous times from different angles change the rule. Allow the goals.

        I don’t like the delay either. I understand you want to make the right call & it is but change the rule so these goals count. The NHL can use more scoring anyway they can achieve it. Hell let them kick pucks into the net to. Isn’t it skillful for a player to have the where withal in a nano second to kick the puck in? Ha-ha!

    • I fully agree. TB would have beat Pittsburgh if not for this stupid rule.

    • Yeah same thing happened to me. I saw it and was hoping they wouldn’t score. Looked like Krejci was offside but they said he had possession.
      He didn’t though. Would like to see the rule changed. If you’re back leg is behind the line even if off the ice should be onside.

  9. Bob Mckenzie on TSN radio was asked about Hanzel a week ago and he said he hasnt herd anything about this.

    • Friedman said Mtl,sj and stl were inquiring

  10. Don’t get me wrong when I say trading vanReimsdyk is essential. Trading him is the only way to add to the defense. This does not mean any straying from the plan whatsoever. Yes drafting players has proven in the cap world to be the most effective; however, the Leafs need defensive help now to alleviate the pressure on Reilly and Zaitsev. The better teams in the League have at a minimum three top flight defensemen. The Leafs do not have that right now and all the available candidates are still quite young. Just do it!

    • Why rush? What’s the point? He is top 10 in the league for points right now and you are going to diminish your own asset by trading him for less than his value. No one is giving up top D men in Novemember if they hope to be a playoff team. Earliest would be trade deadline to a team that’s out of it and even then it doesn’t really make sense. Why a team would be looking for a deal like that. It’s about the long term and rushing out making willy nippy moves won’t help. It’s not just any old D that the Leafs need it’s something specific that other teams won’t be giving up in November.

    • Urghhhhh, trading JVR isn’t “the only way” to acquire a dman, there is the Off Season to accomplish that. Then if JVR gets traded during that time as well, trade him for a skilled young prospect in the same age group as Marner/Matthews/etc. and a high draft pick. Here’s an example, mind you it’s maybe not a plausible scenario, but one to get you’s on the same page to what I explained before this trade scenario…

      To TML: Dvorak + 2017 2nd
      To ARZ: JVR

      Then you go after someone like (if available); Burns, Shattenkirk, Gudbranson, etc. Some will obviously be set to become RFA’s, then you can throw in trade pieces (Kapanen, Leivo, etc.). But at the end of the day, I now don’t think JVR will be traded this season. If he is, he’ll definitely be very high priced, which we the Leafs’ fans will most certainly like that idea too, no matter how much we adore/love/like him, if a return is more than what you gave up, you make that deal.

      • Your comments are quite true. We could draft for defense or wait for the off season. But drafting for defense is a long process when you consider the development of a defenseman. And the offseason can be a bit of a crap shoot. Right now vanReimsdyk could get you quite a return. All are viable options. I would have to say we are all in agreement that Toronto needs to improve their defense?

      • Yeah, Steven, everyone’s in agreement on that – the Leafs are missing a top pair D man for the right side.

        The question is, what’s the timeline for getting that piece?

        In the system we have Nielsen, who I think has top four potential on the right side. We could see him get some games in the NHL next season. Loov, Valiev, etc, I’m less hopeful for.

        Through the draft, it’s 5 years if you’re very lucky and more likely you’re not getting that top pair Dman you want. Especially considering they currently sit middle of the standings.

        Striker lays out a plausible case that the tight market for Dman may open up with the expansion draft, but it’s impossible to know for certain. I expect the Leafs to be patient.

        At the start of this season, most fans were expecting a 5 year rebuilding process and some of the nut jobs on here, like BigBruins, were claiming it would be a lot longer than that.

      • A top pairing RD is the toughest commodity in hockey to acquire via trade or free agency as they almost always get resigned. Chara way back then is really the only top D-man I can think of to hit UFA status still in his prime. As a Bruins fan I feel your pain because we need one too. I live in Edmonton and look what it cost for a borderline top pair guy. The only options are to trade for (and overpay) for a young guy who is not yet fully developed but has the upside skill like a Trouba (wPG wouldn’t budge) or Hamilton (struggling right now) recently. Or one for one like Subban and Weber. For the leafs that means Rielly who is getting there.
        Bottom line is you draft them.

      • I think youre pretty much right on the mark with your assessment Ray except the Oiler example I think part of the big reason the cost was so high was that most knew that Lucic was a done deal and it almost became extortion, there was no way the Oilers were keeping all those forwards plus Lucic any move they were going to make was going to look a little one sided imo they didn’t really have much of a choice other than paying 13 mill a year for 2 left wingers tough to deal whith all that salary over your head plus the glaring need plus what little was available out there, plus the value in Larssons contract (I do like that part of the deal) it just kinda made for the perfect storm. With expansion I don’t think the cost would be quite so high and plus I’m not sure the Leafs would be looking for a guy in his prime as much as a younger guy to grow with the rest. Kinda why I think a team like Minnesota may make the best dance partner for a team like the Leafs when it comes to a trade. Guy like Folin could be a good target with expansion looming that won’t have a cost like JVR

  11. I’d hate to see any extension of the CBA that doesn’t close the Vesey/Schultz/Wheeler loophole that allows college players to become UFA’s.

    NHL teams should own a college player’s rights until one year after his college career is over.